Bullying and scandals involving Australian Facebook users have been a hot topic in the media lately. Every day some form of negative feedback or article reaches the newspapers and television. From children being bullied, celebrities making ignorant comments about each other, even unflattering party photos surfacing ending a career - Facebook and other social networking sites seem to be causing more harm than good in the eyes of many.

Personally, I love Facebook and think it is a great way to communicate with people. I can effortlessly keep up to date with several friends at once - all without having to make dozens of costly phone calls. Sometimes catching up with friends can be difficult due to work and family commitments, so although I try my best - sometimes Facebook is the best option. 

For years now I have been using the Internet to communicate with friends. Starting with forums and MSN instant Messenger, followed by MySpace and now Facebook. I feel that without these forms of communication, I wouldn't hear half as much about my friends, and would probably get forgotten about. 

No matter the age, everyone enjoys communicating with people they like, and now, Facebook is making it that much easier. Parents these days are hearing only negative feedback regarding Facebook. The news and media make it sound like every child on the Internet is being harassed, bullied, or having their identity stolen. The truth is, this doesn't happen all the time. If you are prepared, well educated, and take precautions - it shouldn't happen at all.

Children-and-technology

There is little point hiding your family away from Social Networking websites as they will never cease to exist, or stop growing, so instead - provide your children with the education they need to use the site safely, utilising all of Facebook security settings - keeping you in control. When educating your children, it is important that they understand that everything posted on the Internet, is there forever. A silly photo, a rude comment, or an inappropriate remark could jeopardise friendships, employment opportunities and reputations. 

Encourage your children to make personal connections in a safe and secure way, and create a Facebook network of close family and friends - first approved by you. If they have not been familiarised with Social Media tools, such as Facebook, Parents may find it difficult to discuss the potential threats and precautions that children need to exercise. In saying that, children may also have trouble discussing issues such as online bullying with their parents, due to fear they will be punished, and banned from using the Internet and online socialising. 

The best way to go about the safe use of Social Media tools, is to be educated. My half day TrainSEM Facebook for Families training course will ensure parents know everything they need to, providing reassurance that Facebook - when understood, and the correct precautions are taken - is a positive, happy place - where children can chat and share photos, form new friendships, and rekindle old ones.

Keith Nallawalla is a Social Media Consultant for Train SEM, a Melbourne based Digital Training company specialising in Online Marketing and Social Media. If you are interested in finding out more, head along to his half day course. More information can be found on the website.